Microsoft Bug, Greenspan Speaks, Yahoo Cuts

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Soon after Microsoft released a patch for a critical bug in its Windows Server software, attack code surfaced, and by Friday afternoon an early sample of the code was out, which led to the week ending on a warning note. That seemed only appropriate for a week that opened with Yahoo announcing deep cost-cutting moves, including plans to lay off at least 10 percent of its global workforce. Between the beginning and the end of the week, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan blamed the U.S. economic crisis at least in part on the use of bad data. Perhaps next week will bring better news.

1. Attack code for critical Microsoft bug surfaces and New worm feeds on latest Microsoft bug: It didn't take long after Microsoft provided information about a critical Windows flaw, along with a patch, before attack code showed up. Developers of the Immunity security testing tool had an exploit written within a couple of hours of Microsoft's announcement on Thursday. Although the developer's software is only for paying customers, security researchers said they expected a version of the code to go public soon. That happened Friday afternoon when sample code appeared on the Web. The flaw, in Windows Server service, which is used to connect network resources, was also being exploited by a worm.

2. Greenspan, Cox tell Congress that bad data hurt Wall Street's computer models: Insufficient and faulty data used in risk management models contributed to the financial mess embroiling the U.S. and rippling across the globe, said former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Financial firms made business decisions using "the best insights of mathematicians and finance experts, supported by major advances in computer and communications technology," Greenspan told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "The whole intellectual edifice, however, collapsed in the summer of last year because the data inputted into the risk management models generally covered only the past two decades -- a period of euphoria."

3. Yahoo will cut staff 10 percent or more; Q3 disappoints: Yahoo will lay off at least 10 percent of its global workforce by the end of the year as part of a US$400 million cost-cutting plan, the company said as it reported that its third-quarter revenue rose just 1 percent to $1.77 billion compared to the same quarter last year. Although more than a few people, including Newsweek technology columnist Daniel Lyons, are wondering more loudly why it is that cofounder and CEO Jerry Yang is still in charge of an obviously sinking ship, Yang went with a positive spin on the bad news, claiming that the company is "well-positioned for future growth."

4. Android phone launch day relatively quiet: Google's Android phone went on sale Tuesday, with people here and there standing in short lines outside of stores to be first to get their handsets. While there wasn't anything approaching the buzz surrounding the first iPhone sales, T-Mobile stores reported a steady stream of customers for its G1 phone, which is the first on the market to run the Android operating system.

5. Intel repudiates executives' criticism of the iPhone: Comments from Intel executives who criticized the iPhone weren't appropriate, Intel said, after reports on the statements emerged from the company's developer forum in Taipei. Shane Wall and Pankaj Kedia said the iPhone is slow and incapable of running the "full Internet" because the smartphone has an Arm processor instead of, you guessed it, an Intel processor. "Apple's iPhone offering is an extremely innovative product that enables new and exciting market opportunities. The statements made in Taiwan were inappropriate, and Intel representatives should not have been commenting on specific customer designs," the company said later in a statement posted on its Chip Shots Web site.

6. Gmail activation problem in Apps finally solved: A problem was finally solved this week with Google Apps that kept those who recently subscribed to its Web-hosted office suite from being able to get to their new Gmail accounts. The problem kept Gmail accounts from being activated for new Apps users, starting late last week. The company said Monday the problem would be fixed by Tuesday, but it didn't work out that way, to the consternation of many Apps users, or would-be users.

7. Sun tussles with startup over noted systems designer: In an oddball of a story, startup Arista Networks set off a mini firestorm with Sun Microsystems when it announced that Andreas Bechtolsheim is the company's new chief development officer. Bechtolsheim, you see, is Sun's chief scientist and a top-notch systems designer, so Arista's news led to reports that he had resigned from Sun, which Sun denied, sending e-mail to journalists saying those reports were inaccurate and that he would continue at the company, though part time. That led Arista's director of marketing, Mark Foss, to say that as far as the startup is concerned Bechtolsheim is working full time at Arista, and that there was "a miscommunication" between his company and Sun that they were working to clarify. Bechtolsheim then did the clarifying -- he works full time now at Arista, which he cofounded and where he also serves as chairman, but he's going to advise Sun on a part-time basis of "no more than one day a week."

8. IBM to roll out $8-per-month hosted Lotus: IBM is offering Lotus Notes hosted service for as little as $8 a month per user, in an attempt to compete with Microsoft's hosted Exchange messaging service due out by the end of the year.

9. Early voting starts in 31 states; e-voting snag in W.Va. fixed: Early voting got going in the U.S. ahead of Election Day on Nov. 4, when expected high turnouts could lead to longer lines than voters usually contend with. Thirty-one states permit early voting, with three more allowing it for those who won't be able to get to the polls on Election Day. Along with early voting came reports of problems with e-voting machines -- such issues are also expected to arise come Nov. 4. Which brings us to the final entry of the week for those still trying to make up their minds and inclined to vote based on technology issues ...

10. Where the presidential candidates stand on tech issues: Both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain bring technology experience to the table as presidential candidates, though the experiences are quite different. Obama is an avid user of technology -- he's among the capital's BlackBerry enthusiasts -- while McCain admits he's not much for using electronic devices, but he has been on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for a long time, and a lot of technology-related legislation passes through that group before going to the full Senate. IDG News Service took a look at where they each stand on five key technology areas: telecommunications, national security, privacy, IT jobs and innovation.

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